Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Do You Want to be Shaved?
Some of the humor will, no doubt, be lost in trying to summarize this tale, but for the story in its entirety, you can check out the book, Elk River Ghosts, Tales, and Lore, by Mack Samples. It's a WV ghost and folklore book, and the story is....Do You Want to be Shaved? Thought this might be cute for the younger crowd as a campfire story or to get in the Halloween spirit (because, in MY house, the Halloween season lasts year-round!)
In the 1920s, the area around Clendenin in northern Kanawha County was still extremely rural. Most families in the area did not have electricity, nor automobiles, and the roads were rarely any better than a dirt path. Since dancing and music were largely frowned upon by many community and church elders, the younger people often gathered at the home of one of the more liberal families in the area for evenings of entertainment...including another favorite past time...story telling.
One such place was "Grandma Smith's." It wasn't uncommon in the winter to find a group of people spending several days at a time, especially as the weather got worse. During the day, the girls would help Grandma with the cooking and the chores, and the serving of food, which was always plentiful, while the young men helped with feeding the animals, cutting firewood, and other outside chores. Then, in the evenings, they would pop popcorn, tell stories, and even play a little music and do a little dancing.
When bedtime finally did roll around, people slept wherever there was room, sometimes three to four on a pallet, and multiple pallets spread out all over the first floor of the home. However, there was one small attic room that was often coveted. It was TINY, but there was a cot and a window. The girls were always too scared to sleep there, so the boys took turns sleeping in the room. That is, however, until one early November night.
Shortly after everyone had gone to bed, the boy staying in the attic room bolted downstairs in a state of panic. He reported that as he lay down to go to sleep, he heard an eerie whispered voice say, "Do you want to be shaved?" He thought at first his mind must be playing tricks on him, as when he sat up, the voice went away. However, as soon as he lay back down, the voice returned, and he had fled. The others sorta laughed the incident off, but the boy refused to return to the room, and no one was willing to take his place.
The next night, another boy went to bed in the room around 11pm. He awoke the next morning, saying he hadn't heard a thing. So, the next night, another boy decided he'd give it a shot, but not 20 minutes later, he too ran out of the room yelling about a voice saying, "Do you want to be shaved?" After that, NO ONE wanted to sleep in the room, and it remained vacant for several weeks, until Grandma Smith herself decided to spend the night in the room. She, too, bolted from the room shortly after going to bed. She couldn't make out for sure what the voice was saying, but did admit that it sounded an awful lot like someone asking, "Do you want to be shaved?"
The room remained vacant after that all winter long. Then, in March, the weather turned nasty, so the young people gathered for what they assumed would be the last party of the season. They were especially excited, because there was a guest at the home, a fiddle player from Big Blue Creek. After an evening of music and dancing, the subject of the haunted room came up. The fiddle player gladly accepted the challenge of spending the night in what was now dubbed the "Do you want to be shaved" room. The fiddle player retired for the evening, but to everyone's disappointment, did not come bolting from the room that night.
The next morning at breakfast, the other guests asked him if he did not hear the voice last night. He answered, that he HAD indeed heard the voice, and that it confronted him before he even got into bed. He went on to say that the voice haunted him several times throughout the night, but he did not allow it to interfere with his sleep. Everyone BEGGED him to elaborate, but the fiddle player just slyly grinned and told them to wait until he finished his breakfast, and then he'd be glad to introduce them to the ghost.
After breakfast, he led an excited group out to the wraparound porch, and told them to wait underneath the window to the attic room. He then asked Grandma when the wire screens had been installed over the windows, to which she answered, last fall. Again, the fiddler grinned, and pointed at a large willow tree outside the window. After the leaves had fallen from the trees, one of the bare limbs touching the window would rub against the screen whenever there was a breeze, causing a sound which was interpreted as a human voice saying, "Do you want to be shaved?" The fiddler took out a knife, cut the limb off, and the Shaving Ghost of Smith Bottom was never heard from again.